Humanism and 16th Century Music Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

In one portrait of a Renaissance man, the aristocrat's musical instruments are placed alongside his various scientific instruments, books, and weapons (Arkenberg 2002). Eventually, in spite of "some of the obscure, antiquarian concerns of humanist engagement with the music of the classical past…music came to be thought of not as a branch of mathematics" but as an art ("The Renaissance," Free Encyclopedia, 2009). Humanism shifted the analytical understanding of music fully into the realm of the expressive, fine arts. There was renewed interest in the relationship between music and words and music's ability to express human emotion, versus analyzing the mathematician Pythagoras' notion of the 'music of the planetary spheres' ("The Renaissance," Free Encyclopedia, 2009).

At the beginning of the century, polyphonic music still dominated the Latin masses and motets of sacred music. Because these styles of music contained several simultaneous melodies polyphony tended to deemphasize individual voices, words, and meaning. However, greater innovation was shown in these sacred genres by Josquin des Prez who began use words with melodies so that the meaning of the text was still intelligible. He also introduced secular melodies into sacred works. Later, "the insistence on textual intelligibility in both Catholic and Protestant thinking, the vivid imagery used by madrigalists like Wert and Marenzio, the attempts of the Pleiade in France to unite music and poetry, the activities of Bardi's camereta in Florence" showed even greater influence of humanistic philosophy in their equal attention to music and verse ("The Renaissance," Free Encyclopedia, 2009).

The Protestant Reformation transformed sacred music by enabling it to be sung in the vernacular. This further broke down the divisions between personal life and sacred life, low and high art, even within the walls of churches. The democratization of sacred music was thus another component of the spread of humanistic influence. Protestant music in the vernacular tended to be less elaborate and use more accessible musical themes than Latin masses, which encouraged even Catholic musicians to adopt a more flexible attitude towards sacred compositions. After the English revolution and the ascent of Elizabeth I, a new canon of music was required in that nation as well: William Byrd composed masses in both English and Latin (Arkenberg 2009). A final democratic innovation was the invention of the printing press. This had a seismic impact upon music, as it enabled music to be disseminated to a wider audience in print form. Technology also expanded the music repertoire with the introduction of the viola, lute, recorder, harpsichord, and organ. New philosophies, new instruments, and new ways of disseminating music all flourished during this era.

Works Cited

Arkenberg, Rebecca. "Music in the Renaissance." In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000 -- . October 2002. December 11, 2009. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/renm/hd_renm.htm

Kries, Stephen. Renaissance Humanism. The History Guide. 2001. Last updated November 7,

2008. December 11, 2009.

http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/humanism.html

"The Renaissance: The classical ideal, humanism and music." Free Encyclopedia.

December 11, 2009.

http://arts.jrank.org/pages/5582/Renaissance.html#ixzz0ZQHJAQTG

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Arkenberg, Rebecca. "Music in the Renaissance." In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000 -- . October 2002. December 11, 2009. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/renm/hd_renm.htm

Kries, Stephen. Renaissance Humanism. The History Guide. 2001. Last updated November 7,

2008. December 11, 2009.

http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/humanism.html

Cite This Essay:

"Humanism And 16th Century Music" (2009, December 12) Retrieved April 7, 2020, from
https://www.paperdue.com/essay/humanism-and-16th-century-music-16367

"Humanism And 16th Century Music" 12 December 2009. Web.7 April. 2020. <
https://www.paperdue.com/essay/humanism-and-16th-century-music-16367>

"Humanism And 16th Century Music", 12 December 2009, Accessed.7 April. 2020,
https://www.paperdue.com/essay/humanism-and-16th-century-music-16367